197 Marlborough was designed by architect J. Lyman Faxon and built in 1891-1892 by H. McLaughlin, builder, as the home of Frederick T. Bradbury and his wife Harriet J. (White) Bradbury. They previously had lived at 103 Pembroke. Harriet J. Bradbury is shown as the owner of 197 Marlborough on the original building permit application, dated October 31, 1891, and on the final building inspection report, dated December 10, 1892 (she is erroneously referred to as Harriet J. Bradley on both documents).
Harriet Bradbury purchased the land for 197 Marlborough on June 2, 1891, from real estate investor George H. Brooks. He and his wife, Sarah (Smith) Brooks, lived at 130 Commonwealth. He had acquired the land on April 16, 1891, from paper manufacturer and former attorney Samuel Dennis Warren, Jr., part of a larger lot extending west to Exeter Street he purchased from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts on June 25, 1888. Samuel Warren and his wife, Mabel (Bayard) Warren, lived at 174 Marlborough.
Click here for an index to the deeds for 197 Marlborough, and click here for further information about the land between the north side of Marlborough and Alley 418, from Dartmouth to Exeter.
Frederick Bradbury was teller of the Provident Institution for Savings. In 1907, he retired from banking to become treasurer of the Potter Drug and Chemical Company (manufacturers of Cuticura soap), of which his brother-in-law, George Robert White, was the managing partner.
George R. White lived with the Bradburys and also had lived with them at 103 Pembroke. In addition to being managing partner of the Potter Drug and Chemical Company, he also was a real estate investor and a major benefactor of the Museum of Fine Arts and other Boston institutions. At the time of his death in 1922, George White was described as the city’s largest individual taxpayer; in his will, he left the City of Boston $7 million for “works of public utility and beauty,” including a memorial in his memory. The sculptor Daniel Chester French was commissioned to design a fountain in his honor at the northwest corner of the Public Garden; it was dedicated in 1924.
In September of 1896, George White purchased the stable at 354 Newbury. He continued to own it until 1917, when it was taken by the City of Boston, by eminent domain, in conjunction with the City’s construction of the Boylston Street subway line.
In 1898, George White purchased property on Smith’s Point in Manchester, Massachusetts, where he replaced the existing house with a new one, designed by Winslow and Wetherell, which he named Lilliothea. In 1913-1914, he had the house rebuilt, with Bigelow and Wadsworth as the architects and the grounds designed by Olmstead Brothers (Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr., and John Charles Olmstead).
The Bradburys and George White continued to live at 197 Marlborough until 1903, when they moved to a new home the Bradburys had built at 285 Commonwealth.
On March 19, 1903, 197 Marlborough was purchased from the Bradburys by Laurence Curtis. He previously had lived at 179 Marlborough with his brother and sister-in-law, Horatio Greenough Curtis and Annie (Nelson) Curtis. He also maintained a home in Nahant.
Laurence Curtis was a stockbroker and investment banker. An avid golfer, he founded the United States Golf Association in 1894. He never married.
Laurence Curtis continued to live at 197 Marlborough until his death in April of 1931. In his will, he left 197 Marlborough to his two nephews, Louis Curtis and Laurence Curtis, the sons of his twin brother, Louis, who had died one month before him.
By the 1931-1932 winter season, 197 Marlborough was the home of Mrs. Louise (McNamara) Otis, widow of Harrison Gray Otis, and their three adult children: Harrison Gray Otis, Jr., William Allyne Otis, and Margaret Otis. Louise and Margaret Otis previously had lived in France; Harrison Gray Otis, Jr., had lived at 91 Charles, and William Otis had lived at 33 Beaver Place.
Louise Otis first leased 197 Marlborough from Louis and Laurence Curtis. On May 20, 1937, it was purchased from them by the estate of her late husband.
Margaret Otis married in December of 1936 to Nelson S. Odman. After their marriage, they lived in Manchester.
Harrison Gray Otis, a real estate broker, married in November of 1943 to Pauline (Smyth) Fraser-Campbell, the former wife of Arnold Fraser-Campbell. After their marriage, they lived at 197 Marlborough with his mother and brother until about 1946, but had moved to 99 Revere by 1947.
William Otis married in December of 1947 to Alice (Merriam) Dale, the former wife of Frank Knight Dale, and they moved to 2 Otis Place. William Otis had been a real estate broker and bond broker; he owned the barber shop at the Ritz Carlton Hotel from the 1930s to the 1960s.
197 Marlborough continued to be owned by the estate of Harrison Gray Otis. Louise Otis lived there until about 1948, but moved soon thereafter.
In 1949, 197 Marlborough was the home of Emile Pierre Coulon and his wife, Mary Julia (Bradham) Coulon. He was owner and general manager of the Hotel Vendome, where they previously had lived and moved again by 1950.
On January 31, 1950, 197 Marlborough was purchased from the estate of Harrison Gray Otis by Albert Rosenblatt and his wife, Esta (Miller) Roseblatt. He was a wholesale plate glass distributor. They lived in Manchester, New Hampshire, at the time they purchased the house but moved soon thereafter to Boston.
In May of 1950, they applied for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property from a single-family dwelling into a lodging house.
On August 30, 1950, 197 Marlborough was acquired from the Rosenblatts by Saul Bernhardt Levitan, a jeweler. He was recently divorced and previously had lived at 18 Commonwealth, which he continued to own.
197 Marlborough also as the home of Gunnar Axel Broms, a building maintenance engineer, and his wife, Signe Marie (Kristiansen) Broms. They previously had lived at 8 Herman.
In 1952, Saul Levitan married again, to Eleanore Helen (Hirsch) Mitnick, the former wife of Harold Mitnick. After their marriage they made 197 Marlborough their home. They continued to live there until his death in October of 1953. By 1954, Eleanore Levitan had moved to an apartment at 18 Commonwealth and the Broms had moved to Jamaica Plain.
Eleanore Levitan married again in 1954 to Philip Short.
On October 29, 1954, the estate of Saul Levitan transferred 197 Marlborough to Eleanore Short, and by 1955 she and her new husband had made it their home. On November 22, 1955, she transferred it into both her and Philip Short’s names.
On March 31, 1959, 197 Marlborough was acquired from Lee Dana Goodman by John Jacques Beaubien and James Sutherland Ambrose, who made it their home and continued to operate it as a lodging house. They previously had lived in an apartment at 271 Beacon. By 1961, they had moved to an apartment at 212 Commonwealth.
On October 31, 1960, 197 Marlborough was acquired from James Ambrose and John Beaubein by real estate dealer and contractor Michael J. Smith and his wife, Georgia Constance (Rigas/Rigopoulos) Smith, who continued to operate it as a lodging house. They previously had lived in an apartment at 322 Marlborough. They continued to live at 197 Marlborough until about 1964, when they moved to an apartment at 195 Marlborough.
On March 10, 1964, 197 Marlborough was acquired from the Smiths by Robert F. Porter, trustee of the Porter Realty Trust. He was employed with Michael J. Smith’s real estate firm. Robert Porter and his wife, Lauretta Ann Porter, lived in one of the apartments at 197 Marlborough.
197 Marlborough continued to be a lodging house.
On April 9, 1968, 197 Marlborough was acquired from Robert Porter by Franklyn G. Bill and Sidney R. Handler, trustees of the Beacon Realty Trust.
On March 12, 1976, 197 Marlborough was purchased from Franklyn Bill and Sidney Handler by Jay M. Weiner. On May 5, 1976, he transferred the property to himself as trustee of the Jaimar Realty Trust, and on April 15, 2015, he transferred it back to himself, as an individual.
That same day, 197 Marlborough was purchased by 197 Marlborough Street LLC (Brenden M. Feeney, manager of record). After acquiring the house, it filed for (and subsequently received) permission to convert the property into two apartments. In April of 2016, it filed for (and subsequently received) permission to change the occupancy to a single family dwelling.
On September 8, 2016, 197 Marlborough was purchased from the 197 Marlborough Street LLC by Jeffrey S. Bornstein, chief financial officer of General Electric, and his wife, Jill M. Bornstein.
The property subsequently changed hands. It continued to be assessed as a single family dwelling in 2021.
The Marlborough Street horse car line had small cars painted pale blue and pea green, affectionately known by residents as the “blue jays” or the “little blue cars.” The horse cars began at Massachusetts Avenue, with one line running east to Dartmouth and then south on Dartmouth to Boylston, and the other running east to Arlington, then north to Beacon and east on Beacon to Charles Street.
In 1889, the Board of Aldermen granted the West End Railway the right to use electric street cars (“electrics”) wherever they had horse car lines in Boston, including the Marlborough Street line. In 1891, they began to wire Marlborough Street and the residents objected. After a hearing by the Board of Aldermen, the company agreed not to install the electric system without giving notice of their intention. In 1894, the residents expressed concern that wiring work being done on Clarendon and Dartmouth indicated that the company planned to convert the line to electricity, and petitioned the Board to prevent such a change. After hearings, in November of 1894, the Board adopted an order prohibiting the company from converting their lines to electricity on Marlborough and on Clarendon and Dartmouth north of Boylston.
After several more years of controversy, on December 20, 1900, the Railroad Commission authorized discontinuation of the Marlborough Street line and removal of the tracks. According to a December 21, 1900, Boston Globe article, they were the last horse cars in Boston, all others having been replaced by electric street cars by the mid-1890s. William Bancroft, president of the Boston Elevated Railway (successor to the West End Railway) advised the Boston Herald on December 28, 1900, that the horse cars “were taken off Marlboro street the forenoon of the 24th, at 10:45 o’clock.”
On May 11, 1901, the Boston Globe reported that work had begun to remove the horse car tracks from Marlborough, “thus blotting out the last reminder of the jog-a-long trips of the white horses and blue cars of the last of Boston’s horse railroad lines.”